Exhibit delves into life’s myriad emotions

“Archangel Haniel,” a quilt made by Melissa Sobotka of Richardson, Texas, is part of a “Sacred Threads” special exhibition to be on display May 1–4 at the Denver National Quilt Festival IX at the Denver Mart. Sobotka’s quilt measures 43 inches by 36 inches and represents the theme of spirituality. Sobotka was inspired by a monument she saw while visiting a cemetery after her father’s death. “I found her to be so serene and peaceful,” she said.

Walks among the trees help quilter Wen Redmond of Strafford, N.H., change her perspective and remind her of what is important in life. She titled her “Sacred Threads” quilt, 33 inches by 24 inches, “Trees Seen, Forest Remembered.”

Laurie Ceesay of Menominee, Mich., works through her grief for a friend’s bipolar disorder through her quilt titled “My Friend is Bipolar.” As the person who interacts daily with the mood swings, she says she better understands how to adapt to the fluctuations.

Lin Schiffner of Nevada City, Calif., says her art is a reflection of a sacred journey that includes exploring concepts of life that unite humanity and embrace the sanctity of our existence on Earth. Her piece, “A Tree of LIfe,” honors the miracle of life, Schniffer explains, and encompasses the exhibit theme of peace/brotherhood. It measures 32 inches square.



■ WHAT: Denver National Quilt Festival IX.

■ WHEN: May 1–4, hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

■ WHERE: Denver Mart, Interstate 25 and 58th Avenue, Exit 215

■ ADMISSION: $12, $10 on Sunday only.

■ INFORMATION: Quiltfest.com or 215-862-5828.

The death of a family member or a dear friend weighs heavily on the human spirit. Each of us must find our way through the grief, whatever our belief system, to function again in the land of the living.

For Melissa Sobotka of Richardson, Texas, it was visiting the cemetery after her father died. There among the gravestones, she saw a monument of the Archangel Haniel, whose name means “glory of God” or “grace of God.”

“I found her to be so serene and peaceful,” Sobotka says.

So comforting was its spiritual message to her that Sobotka photographed the monument and transformed it into cloth as an ethereal blue-and-white quilt, effectively making the statue come to life.

Haniel, also known as the angel of joy, is said to help humans heal emotionally from stress or sorrow, discover their creative inspiration for artistic projects, increase their productivity and find hope.

Sobotka’s quilt titled “Archangel Haniel” is now part of a “Sacred Threads” exhibit to be displayed May 1–4 at the Denver National Quilt Festival IX.

The exhibit is one of 18 special exhibitions to be shown at the Denver Mart, 451 E. 58th Ave. A competition quilt show and merchants mall also are part of the event.

Lisa Ellis is the “Sacred Threads” chairwoman and Barbara Hollinger is the curator. The intention is to touch viewers on spiritual and personal levels with the quilters’ stories of healing and strength. No particular religion is emphasized, but the quilts convey spirituality, healing and inspiration, messages that transcend all people. Quilts are categorized under the themes of: expressions of joy, spirituality, inspiration, grief, healing and peace/brotherhood.

Also within the theme of spirituality, quilter Wen Redmond of Strafford, N.H., entered her quilt titled “Trees Seen, Forest Remembered.”

Her artist’s statement is poetic:

“When I feel spaced out, tired, I go for walks.

“Walks in among the trees reconnect me with spirit.

“Change my perspective; remind me what’s important.

“To remember the forest.”

Laurie Ceesay of Menominee, Mich., explores the theme of grief with her quilt titled “My Friend Is Bipolar.”

“I grieve for the fact that people with bipolar disorder have a hard time being ‘normal’ and often need medications to balance their moods while taking away another emotion.”

Ceesay used descriptive words in the quilt background but purposely made the colors blend to be symbolic of the social stigma of not discussing mental health issues. She over exaggerated the manic characteristics of overdoing things — the woman’s hair, makeup, jewelry and clothing patterns and colors. With the depressed representation, she kept the colors grayed, sad and subdued, the jewelry dark and the clothing nondescript.

“This quilt helps me understand bipolar disorder better,” Ceesay says.

In a more upbeat tone, the theme of peace/brotherhood is reflected in “A Tree of Life” by Lin Schiffner of Nevada City, Calif.

“This piece honors the miracle of life,” Schiffner says, “the web of interconnection among life forms and elements on Earth.”

The continents she represents as foliage, with creatures loosely linked to where they may live. Although they are only a tiny leaf on the tree, human beings are responsible for its future, she explains.

“May we learn to protect, cherish, nourish and preserve the Tree of Life so it may grow in peace, harmony and love.”

These are just four examples through which this group of “Sacred Threads” quilt artists hopes to relay some insight into the concerns of our souls and minds.

Embracing, rather than escaping, these feelings is undoubtedly a cathartic experience.

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